The Two-edged Sword Of The Son Of Man (rev. 1:16)

16 …and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. (Rev 1:16)

As dozens of artists attempted to recreate this picture in their art works and mostly without much success, we are pointed to the awkwardness of John’s further description of the Son of Man – “from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword”. Sword is the ultimate symbol of armed strength and victory in the ancient world. There are many different kinds of swords. The swords that were two-edged were particularly deadly since they were able to cut from both side of the blade.

Understanding the genre of Revelation we know that the double-edged sword is a metaphor. The imagery is trying to convey that the mouth of the Son of Man wields great power, like that of a double-edged sword. It is able to wound and to slay the enemies. In 1 Enoch 62:2 we read:

And the Lord of Spirits seated him on the throne of His glory, and the spirit of righteousness was poured out upon him, and the word of his mouth slays all the sinners, and all the unrighteous are destroyed from before his face.”

The Second Temple literature and Bible has a number of passages showing that the mouth can be a very deadly weapon. In some places merely words slay, in other passages it is fire and sometimes it is the breath. In 4 Ezra 13:3 we read:

And I beheld, and lo! The wind caused to come up out of the heart of the seas as it were the form of a man. And I beheld, and lo! This Man flew with the clouds of heaven. And wherever he turned his countenance to look everything seen by him trembled; and with the voice that went out of his mouth, all that heard his voice melted away, as the wax melts when it feels the fire.”

The Son of Man has immense power in this depiction. Like in Daniel he comes “with the clouds of heaven”. His gaze alone makes things tremble. The sound of his voice makes things melt as if he is breathing fire. Though this is not a sword, the idea is the same. This angel-like being is powerful enough to destroy with his voice alone. Prophet Isaiah writes similar words:

“And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:3-4)

Whether it is a double-edged sword in the mouth of the Son of Man, or his voice melts all things, or he strikes the earth with the rod of his mouth the effect it of this description is very intentional. The overall idea here is that this heavenly being described by John in verse 16 is full of power as evidenced by him holding the seven starts and a potent sword preceding forth from him presumably to assure the seven assemblies of their safety.

One very important but additional detail is that the sword comes out of his mouth. If we ponder this issue a little, we will be struck by this small, but extremely significant detail. Swords are always held by the hands of the worriers. To be precise, the sword is always held in the strongest hand (usually the right hand), signifying full control over the weapon.

The point in this text is not that the hands of the Son of Man are already full, but that the powerful sword under consideration here is God’s Words. The writer of the so-called Epistle to the Hebrews, who likely wrote before the Revelation was composed, put it this way:

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb.4:12)

There seems to be a little doubt that the Book of Revelation was composed at the time of persecution of early Christ-followers by the Roman government. The letter of Revelation was a right message at the right time. This apocalyptic message is a bright hopeful future amidst difficult times. When the fate of Jesus-worshiping congregations (both newly planted among non-Jews and those who already existed among the Jews) was not at all clear, John is shown what must soon take place. Before he is able to see all of the heavenly drama prophetically enacted he is already overcome by this heavenly being that he sees.


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  1. C Edward Smith

    I seem to have missed the Link to sign-up for ur Blog …and I ended up on this page …RSVP pls

  2. Ruth Jewell

    Very interesting reading. I am looking forward to more insights from you, as well as reading the comments. Thank you

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Glad you could join our study!

  3. rallie florencio cruz

    Until you understand isaiah 14:11-17, Ezrkiel 21, Rev. 22:16and the phrase : The One who once was, not is not and is to cone”.. you may know who was that man in psalm 89.

  4. Alexander Garcia

    Shalom I apologize ahead of time for if I offend I find your study interesting but have a few comments about the facts of history. First the use of the title Lord is a totally false as no one ever spoke English 2000 years ago. the Hebrew equal to lord is Baal the name Jesus is only about 500 years old and is a false name and last but not least there where no Christians being persecuted by the Romans this is a total fabrication by Christians! since I take it for granted that u are an educated person I am sure u know this all to be the truth. please read 1 John 2:19 who r the only people that claim to come from the children of Israel but r not of Israel? they r the followers of the false MESSIYAH. everything of Christianity is against the truth of the words of Elohim and none of it is in the Bible.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Alexander, I am glad you visited the blog. No you do not offend me, personally. But I would ask you to be careful with broad characterizations about people’s beliefs. Let us stay away from blanket accusations of everyone of falsehood and heresy. We do not allow attacks on other people’s beliefs on the blog. You do not know anyone here personally. Why do you bring up English? Everyone know that the Bible was not written in English (English is a translation), though this is the language in which we are now conversing. No, the equivalent of Lord is not Baal. You assertion is not entirely accurate. English word “Lord” is Kurios in Greek and Adon in Hebrew. Baal in Biblical and Talmudic Hebrew does mean “master/sir” as in respectful tile applied to people of power but it also means “husband” in countless places. I know biblical languages well, but when I speak or write English, I use English equivalents. Otherwise those who do not know biblical languages would struggle to understand me. Welcome to the blog, but lets not get onto the war path with harsh comments. 🙂

  5. Leon M

    Tov Meod

  6. Kat

    This has been quite helpful. “his mouth slays all the sinners” might traditionally imply victory is all about Jesus convicting us of sin but I see here how we would have victory over sin because of His power. I do see two sides of victory. One bringing us to faith in God (wandering in the wilderness) and the other leading us to rest through Jesus(the promised land).

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      2 edges, 2 sides of victory, nice!

  7. Gino Sinopoli

    When Yahchanan, John, wrote the Revelations, the Name, Jesus, did not exist, but, the titles adonai & Elohim had already replaced our Fathers Name with these titles. Thus, the warning to beware of the scribes for many reasons. TODAY, WE MUST RESTORE THE PURE LANGUAGE OF OUR SALVATION (SHUA) Yahu’sSalvation Plan YAHUSHUA, PRAISE YAHU! ♥

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Gino, John’s writings are in Greek, of course English is just a translation, so whats so terrible?

    2. Ramon Antonio

      THIS Is a very good point. The name we presently take for granted, Jesus, is a derivation of what we infer that the name of the son of Joseph was, which is something around Joshua-el or Iawa-el which should be some form of rendition of the expression God saves. United with Immanuel-el, God is with us, which was the name that the Angel Gabriel revealed to Mariam for Him, this was the full name of our Saviour.

  8. Jason

    Timely study for a time such as this. Insightful and inspiring. May this study reveal more of the Lord Jesus Christ to us all. Amen.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you Jason, study with us!

  9. Mammo Assefa

    thank you Dr.I am very impressed by your taught.Some new thing is added to my insight that these words can remove unwanted things from my life.

  10. Harriet Mills

    Thanx for the blog, amazing how the book of John reveals about Jesus Christ the one and only Son of GOD

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      You are welcome!